Unless you’ve somehow missed the massively popular massively online battle arena (MOBA) DOTA 2 from Valve over the past five years, you’ll have at least some idea of how large a player base attracts. But DOTA 2 is more than just a free-to-play hero-based game that has attracted millions of players. It also has a thriving eSports community, and its total prize pool often puts traditional sporting events to shame.
The International 2018
In 2011 Valve organized the first instance of The International, starting with a total prize pool of $1.6 million. Valve eventually allowed DOTA 2 players to contribute to the prize pool for future occurrences of The International continually raising the bar to eventually over $25 million for The International 2018 (TI8). The massive prize pools for the annual tournament are made up of player contributions raised by purchasing in-game items.
The structure of The International follows a standard double-bracket system, and for the first time teams from around the globe participate in tournaments while earning points. The eight top-ranked teams received direct invitations to TI8. The eight teams at the top of the tournament rankings are:
- Team Liquid
- Team Secret
- Vici Gaming
An additional ten teams from six different regions qualified to round out the final 16 of The International 2018.
The double-bracket system consists of two brackets, an upper bracket, and a lower bracket. This system turns The International 2018 into a double-elimination style tournament. A round of qualifiers determines the teams’ position in the brackets and teams who lose in the upper bracket drop down into the lower bracket. Once in the lower bracket, a loss eliminates the team from competition. This method allows upper bracket team a second chance to win the overall tournament even with one loss on their record. Each match’s winner is determined in a best-of-three system where the team that wins two games moves on to the next round.
The International 2018 Schedule
The tournament runs throughout the week of August 20 culminating in the grand finale on Saturday, August 25. We’ll be providing a daily recap article starting with the upper bracket semifinals on Wednesday, August 22.
While the human teams are playing, Valve also has an OpenAI competition where AI controlled teams compete to be the best artificial intelligence team. The OpenAI initiative has consistently improved in recent years, and The International 2018 will feature some matches pitting human teams against OpenAI to determine just how good it has gotten.